Committee for Justice & Fairness, the political action committee of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, has raised Republican hackles with a new ad pointing out that candidate David Freed defended Tom Corbett's inexcusably lengthy investigation of serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky.
It also inadvertently shines a light on a forgotten chapter in the career of contentious Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley
The ad begins, "When David Freed refused to prosecute campaign violations, one of Harrisburg's most corrupt politicians walked." It accuses Freed of "letting insiders escape accountability."
The campaign violations Freed refused to prosecute are the anonymous "robocalls" former House Speaker John Perzel unleashed against fellow Republicans in 2008. Freed said he would investigate, but never followed through. Perzel "walked," but he didn't get far, as Corbett later incorporated those charges into his 2009 indictment of Perzel. (Capitolwire 12/21/08)
Another "insider" who "walked" on identical charges - using the very same crooked consultant as Perzel - was Kevin Harley.
In 2000, Harley was one of five candidates in the Republican primary for the 37th House District in Lancaster County. On the eve of the election, the district was blanketed with illegal, anonymous robocalls targeting two of Harley's rivals.
Just like Perzel, Harley refused to take responsibility for the calls. Harley claimed his campaign consultant, Don Raymond, "took it upon himself," to order the calls, and Raymond's lawyer issued an apology on his behalf. (Lancaster New Era 4/14/00 & Intelligencer-Journal 4/27/00)
Just as in the Perzel case, the local district attorney initiated an investigation, and just as in the Perzel case, he dropped it without filing any charges. (Lancaster New Era 5/13/00 & 5/25/00)
In the aftermath of Raymond's "apology," Intelligencer-Journal columnist Jeff Hawkes wondered, "Does he think he'll work again as a political consultant? What candidate is going to hire a consultant that can't be trusted to consult with the candidate?" (Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal 4/27/00)
Raymond was named executive director of the House Republican Campaign Committee before the ink was dry on his "apology" and he maintained his prosperous relationship with House Republicans right on through the Perzel robocall scheme that now dogs Freed.
Hawkes admitted, "Boy, was I naive."
The editorial board of the Intelligencer-Journal was not, so much:
"Before everyone believes the only explanation given -- that a political consultant, acting on his own initiative and without a candidate's knowledge, initiated 2,800 smear calls at great expense -- some people might want to ask a few more questions. Among them:
'Even if the courts eventually threw out this case, wouldn't it be worth presenting it simply to determine all facts? Right now, ideas vary about who is ultimately responsible for this dirty deed. Are some innocent people still being smeared?
'Within weeks of the election, why has Don Raymond landed a top political job working for House Republicans?
Raymond served as political consultant for losing candidate Kevin Harley and has taken full responsibility for ordering the calls and has apologized for them through his attorney. But some people believe a consultant does not do such things without authorization.
Some people might think that a consultant who could initiate these negative calls all by himself could not be trusted to work responsibly as executive director of the House Republican Committee, a campaign oversight and coordinating group.
Some people might even think that Raymond received this plum job in exchange for falling on his sword and protecting others in relation to the smear campaign." (Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal 5/31/00)